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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 15-Apr-2021
15-Apr-21 World View -- High farce and tragedy continue in Afghanistan, as Biden announces Sept 11 troop withdrawal

Web Log - April, 2021

15-Apr-21 World View -- High farce and tragedy continue in Afghanistan, as Biden announces Sept 11 troop withdrawal

CNN: Biden guided by 'magical thinking' in Afghanistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

High farce and tragedy continue in Afghanistan, as Biden announces Sept 11 troop withdrawal

Girls in Afghanistan will no longer be in school if the US withdraws and the Taliban takes over (NY Times)
Girls in Afghanistan will no longer be in school if the US withdraws and the Taliban takes over (NY Times)

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that all American troops would be withdrawn by September 11 of this year, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks, and that Nato troops would be withdrawn at the same time. This would be farcical if it weren't so tragic.

How many times have we been here? The President announces a new policy -- "surge" into Afghanistan, a "victory" in Afghanistan, or a "peace with honor" in Afghanistan. I write an article explaining why all of those are impossible, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis summarized later in this article. The new policy fails, exactly as I predicted. But nobody ever learns.

So last year, Donald Trump made a farcical agreement with the Taliban that if they changed their behavior, then the US would withdraw its troops by May 1 of this year. Trump's reason was that Americans are tired of "endless wars." (A bit of irony: Biden's announcement was described by the fawning mainstream media as "historic," but Trump's similar announcement was not.)

So now Joe Biden is president, and he made a farcical announcement that the troops will be removed by September 11 of this year -- the 20th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attack. I always accuse the Biden administration of having no clue what's going on in the world, but this takes the cake. We can expect the Taliban to engineer a major terrorist attack on September 11 to celebrate their victory over the Americans, having achieved their objective of forcing the Americans to withdraw.

In his speech, Biden said:

"I believed that our presence in Afghanistan should be focused on the reason we went in the first place: to ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again. We did that. We accomplished that objective.

I said, among — with others, we’d follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell if need be. That’s exactly what we did, and we got him. It took us close to 10 years to put President Obama’s commitment to — into form. And that’s exactly what happened; Osama bin Laden was gone.

That was 10 years ago. Think about that. We delivered justice to bin Laden a decade ago, and we’ve stayed in Afghanistan for a decade since. Since then, our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan are becoming increasingly unclear, even as the terrorist threat that we went to fight evolved."

So Biden's argument is that America went into Afghanistan to defeat al-Qaeda, but now that al-Qaeda has been defeated, there's no need for American troops to remain.

There was one difference between the terms of the Trump and Biden announcements. Trump's May 1 deadline was "condition based," meaning that if the Taliban didn't behave, then Trump might extend the deadline. This was explained by Biden's press spokesman, Jen Psaki:

"[Question: And could his deadline extend, or could he change his mind if you do see the situation in Afghanistan just decline?]

Psaki: Well, I will say that the president made this decision after close consultations and a close discussion and taking into account all the difficult factors I should say around that decision. So no, he remains committed to the timeline that he intends to set out in his speech. ...

[Question: I don’t think I’ve heard in the answers so far, what the Taliban is supposed to think about this. I mean, if I was them, I think I’d want to take the summer off and wait until September 11th. And why go ahead and negotiate an agreement that would limit them if the U.S. is going to leave anyway?]

Jen Psaki: Well, first I would say that we have an expectation that the Taliban is going to abide by their commitments and that they are not going to allow Afghanistan to become a pariah state. That’s our view. That’s also in their interest, in our view. ...

And his view is that, when you talk about a conditions-based withdrawal, it punts it down the road, “We will never leave. What conditions would we be required to leave? By how long? What does that mean? What’s the additional cost?” These are all the factors in his mind."

First off, the "expectation that the Taliban is going to abide by their commitments" is totally delusional.

This answer illustrates the conundrum that Biden and Psaki did not unravel.

On the one hand, if the withdrawal date is unconditional, then the Taliban will have every reason to continue terrorist acts. In fact, the Taliban have announced that they won't attend an Afghanistan peace conference being hosted by Turkey. Why should they?

On the other hand, if the withdrawal date is conditional then, as Psaki says, the date will just be kicked down the road again.

So the question is this: Will Biden go ahead with the withdrawal as announced, and hand the Taliban a victory? Or will he be forced to reconsider the withdrawal decision?

CNN: Biden guided by 'magical thinking' in Afghanistan

A number of analysts have ridiculed Biden's withdrawal announcement and the delusions behind it. One of them is Peter Bergen, the National Security Analysts for CNN, the network that fawns over Biden so much they've turned into a sewer. So Peter Bergen's analysis cannot readily be rejected as the opinion of a "white supremacist," or whatever CNN calls anyone who disagrees with them.

According to Bergen:

"President Biden's decision to announce a date for pulling all US troops out of Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of 9/11 sets the stage for a predictable disaster. ...

There has to be some magical thinking going on for the Biden White House to expect that there will be a different outcome in Afghanistan [than in President Obama's precipitous withdrawal from Iraq].

Yes, al Qaeda is a mere shadow of what it was on 9/11. That's because for the past two decades, the US and its allies have prevented Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for al Qaeda and allied groups.

It's a policy that has worked.

Now, that sound policy is being abandoned. Once the US leaves Afghanistan, America's NATO allies, who have 7,000 soldiers on the ground, will leave as well, since they rely on an American security umbrella. President Biden confirmed this in his speech to the nation Wednesday afternoon.

The pullout of US and NATO troops will likely enable the Taliban to take over much of the country."

Bergen explains that the Taliban have remained in close contact with al-Qaeda, and they've guaranteed that they "would honor their historical ties" with al-Qaeda. Furthermore, ISIS retains a foothold in Afghanistan.

As Bergen pointed out, the US and Nato have prevented Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for al-Qaeda and allied groups. Once the allied forces pull out, Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for both al-Qaeda and ISIS, just as Osama bin Laden used Afghanistan as a safe haven to launch the original 9/11/2001 attacks.

It's not just Peter Bergen who is alarmed at the withdrawal decision. The New York Times, which always fawningly slobbers over Biden, is worried for the girls of Afghanistan. According to the Times:

"“I am so worried about my future. It seems so murky. If the Taliban take over, I lose my identity,” said Wahida Sadeqi, 17, an 11th grader at Pardis High School in Kabul. “It is about my existence.” ...

For two decades, American leaders have pledged peace, prosperity, democracy, the end of terrorism and rights for women. Few of those promises have materialized in vast areas of Afghanistan, but now even in the cities where real progress occurred, there is fear that everything will be lost when the Americans leave. ...

Over two decades, the American mission evolved from hunting terrorists to helping the government build the institutions of a functioning government, dismantle the Taliban and empower women. But the U.S. and Afghan militaries were never able to effectively destroy the Taliban, allowing the insurgents to stage a comeback. ...

Women would be most at risk under Taliban rule. When the group controlled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, it banned women from taking most jobs or receiving educations and practically made them prisoners in their own homes."

Biden administration officials might be thinking to paraphrase Lyndon Johnson's statement from 53 years ago, referring to Walter Cronkite: "If we've lost the NY Times, then we've lost America."

The interesting thing about the NY Times article is that it seems to reject the delusional Biden administration claim that the Afghan democracy will continue. The article simply assumes that the Taliban will take over, and will impose the same dictatorial government they had in 2001, when they sponsored Osama bin Laden's attack on America.

Analysts who favor continuing to leave a small number (3,500) of American troops in Afghanistan point out that these can prevent a resurgence of al-Qaeda and ISIS, and can also provide a listening post and forward military base to counter Chinese military activity in Central Asia. On the other hand, once America closes its bases in landlocked Afghanistan, they can never be reopened.

Generational Dynamics analysis of the war in Afghanistan

I began writing about the impossibility of winning in Afghanistan shortly after President Obama announced his plan to "surge" troops into Afghanistan.

President Bush had used a successful "surge" counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq in 2007, with the result that al-Qaeda was driven out of Iraq, and the objectives were met. But al-Qaeda in Iraq were mostly not Iraqis. They were jihadists that al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had imported from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The Iraqis themselves, even the Sunnis, mostly hated al-Qaeda, as I described in a lengthy analysis, "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq".

But the Taliban could not be defeated in a similar way in Afghanistan, because the Taliban are radicalized ethnic Pashtuns, and most of the population of Afghanistan are Pashtuns.

In an article earlier this year, I was able to extend this original analysis, based on research that I had done for my book, "Vietnam, Buddhism and the Vietnam War." In that book, I compared the counter-insurgency strategies used by British in the Boer War (1899-1902) and the Malay Emergency (1948-55), and how they contrasted to similar counter-insurgency strategies used by the Americans in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. (See "18-Jan-21 World View -- Chaos grows in Afghanistan as American troops leave in hope of delusional peace plan")

But the extended analysis is based on the same reasoning: In Iraq, the civilians and jihadists looked different and spoke differently. In Afghanistan, the civilians and jihadists are the same Pashtun people.

Let's face it, most politicians and journalists are ignorant and dumb. They have no knowledge of Afghanistan's last generational crisis war, an extremely bloody, horrific civil war, in 1991-96, that defines Afghan society today. The war was a civil war, fought between the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban are radicalized Pashtuns, and when they need to import foreign fighters, then can import their cousins from the Pashtun tribes in Pakistan.

Indeed, it's much worse than that. The ethnic groups in Afghanistan are COMPLETELY NON-UNITED and loathe each other. Pashtuns still have scores to settle with the Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks that formed the Northern Alliance, especially the Shias. These opposing groups have fresh memories of the atrocities, torture, rape, beatings, dismemberments, mutilations, and so forth that the other side performed on their friends, wives and other family members, and they have no desire to be friends or to work together. They'd rather kill each other.

So what is Biden going to do? If he goes ahead with the withdrawal, then it's 100% certain that Afghanistan will collapse into chaos, and it's likely that the Taliban will take control of the government, and everything that America's sacrifices brought to Afghanistan -- democracy, women's rights, relative peace -- will be lost within a few months.


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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Generational Dynamics World View News thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Apr-2021) Permanent Link
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